Skellig Part III

In the footsteps of Rey and Luke…

I costume as Rey with a Star Wars costuming group so there was a temptation to cosplay – but I resisted (also it’s the wrong costume – I’ve still to upgrade my Jakku Rey to Resistance Rey). But as Star Wars was the primary motivation for visiting Skellig Michael – and to be honest the whole holiday in Ireland I couldn’t not do the full location geekery. My lightsaber was the first thing I packed!

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So it was with fannish glee we worked out the spot that Rey stood as she offered the lightsaber with arm outstretched. My boyfriend posed in the spot Luke stood as he turned and lowered his hood broodingly.

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Rather windy, looked on by fellow tourists and puffins we did it!

The descent of Skellig Michael was more precarious than the assent. Going down you had to look beyond the steps which was rather un-nerving, especially if you have reaction sun glasses which can mess with your depth perception! Sitting down in the worst parts helped – it also allowed you to take pictures without the fear of overbalancing.

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From landing to returning to our scheduled pick up by our boat we had about two hours in total on the island which was just enough to experience it. I would go back tomorrow and do it all again, my boyfriend however is just happy he survived the boat trip and the climb.

The trip to Skellig Michael is the perfect adventure for any Star Wars fan. It is simply stunning – there’s ancient history, wildlife and breath-taking landscapes. With a bit of forward planning it’s easy to do – weather permitting of course.

Useful info;

I’d highly recommend the B&B we stayed at on Valentia Island just over the bridge from Portmagee Carraig Leith House.

Visit Skellig Experience for an understanding of the significance of Skellig Michael and why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Enjoy a pint or two in The Moorings

And a hot chocolate and free samples at the Skellig Chocolate Factory!

Star Wars may have been the trigger for making the trip to that part of Ireland but the places we visited – Cork, Valentia Island and Waterville, Killarney and Kenmare made a fantastic holiday even without the geekery.

BTW there’s a Lord of the Rings themed bar in Killarney that has excellent ale…

Part II On the steps

Getting off the boat at the tiny landing site on Skellig Michael was an experience in itself on the choppy waters. Only one boat can dock at time and once you’re off it leaves immediately and another quickly takes its place to discharge its own cargo of twelve. With a time to be back for our pick up we made our way round the island to the start of the steps were a guide met us to give another safety briefing to us. Despite itching to start the trek up it does pay to listen to the experts, Skellig Michael isn’t a film set it, people have died – the most recent in 2009. They force the point (no pun intended) that this is a ‘wilderness site’ and rightly so, it would be so very easy to get distracted and take a misstep.

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Starting the assent my whole world pretty much reduced down to a one metre wide stretch of stone hand carved and laid in place by monks who first settled on the island in the 6th Century. They’re in remarkable condition as well considering their age, though uneven in places with the occasional overhang designed to catch the unsuspecting boot.  I carefully made my way up Skellig Michael in the footsteps of those monks and a certain young Jedi to be…

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I had blinkered myself by shear force of will to ignore the precipitous situation I now found myself in on the quest to bag THE Star Wars location I surprised myself by coping remarkably well with the shear drop beside me. Though I found my nerves started to fray when I had pause and wait to avoid those fellow travellers who had stopped to take pictures of puffins – admittedly lovely creature, but there the island was covered in them. I wasn’t going to risk walking around them! There is absolutely no need to stop and block the way for others who are in a genuine fear for their lives!

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We made it to the area known as Christ’s saddle, which is an opportunity to gather our breath before the next steep section of steps up to the monk’s ‘beehives’. The views  are absolutely stunning when you can peel your eyes away from your footing. Spotted a familiar stretch of wall and doorway which Rey wanders through in her search for Luke. We wandered the ancient dry stone buildings as a everyone gathered to have a bit of a lecture about them from one of the Skellig Michael guides. But having been to the Skellig Experience the day before we gave it a miss so as to avoid a bottle neck on the stairs as we attempted to make it back down.

to be continued…

Skellig Michael adventure – Star Wars and puffins Part I

Weather permitting.
Two words that strike dread in to the hearts of any traveller. I had booked two places on a Skellig Michael Island landing boat trip for the Tuesday 13th June – way, way back in March and since then hadn’t allowed myself to get excited about it just in case the weather indeed ‘did not permit’.
My boyfriend and I arrived in Portmagee on the Saturday evening with enough time to sample the delights of The Moorings were The Force Awakens wrap party was held and Mark Hamill poured a pint of Guinness and a legend was born… (I’m not ashamed to say I now own a T’shirt with the words “May the Craic be with you”).
Sunday we woke to rather bluster gales – we drove up to the Kerry cliffs with a view of the islands grey in the distance to see waves crashing below us and hardly being able to stand up!
Monday was calmer, but still there were no boats sailing that day. The weather looked to improve for the Tuesday – our day of sail – but I was still anxious when I called to confirm our attendance. Not to worry the voice on the line said – be at the dock in for 9am in the morning – it was on!

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Still I didn’t let myself believe it until we were sat on the small 12 seater boat, wearing a life jacket and bouncing across the Atlantic Ocean with spray in our faces!
The trip we booked was with Casey’s Tours to Skellig Michael and they have a safety film on their website that I had held off watching for a while…watch it and you’ll understand why, the journey and assent of Skellig Michael is not one that should be taken lightly. There is a reason monks thought it would bring them closer to God…

Now we had watched the safety film, seen the safety notices on the dock and also the handy leaflet given to us on the boat as we sailed from the safety of Portmagee harbour. So we were as prepared as we could possibly be. I was reassured by the fact that if a film crew could lug up camera gear and Mark Hamill could make it then I certainly could! Not so much scared of heights but scared of falling from them.

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To be continued….